If you have a problem with your thyroid gland, your doctor may recommend a robotic thyroidectomy.
Your thyroid gland is located over your larynx, or voice box. It wraps around your trachea, or windpipe.
Your thyroid produces a hormone called thyroid hormone, and secretes it directly into your bloodstream.
Your body uses thyroid hormone to increase your energy and raise your body temperature when necessary.
For example, these effects help offset the heat your body loses when exposed to cold weather.
Your doctor may recommend a robotic thyroidectomy if you have certain thyroid cancers,
an enlargement of the gland called a goiter, or benign nodules.
Along with having these conditions, you may be considered for a robotic thyroidectomy if you are at a healthy weight,
your thyroid cancer is less than an inch in diameter, your goiter or nodules are less than one and a half inches,
and you want to avoid scars on your neck.
Before your procedure, an intravenous line will be started.
You may be given antibiotics through the IV to decrease your chance of infection. You will be given general anesthesia.
A breathing tube will be inserted through your mouth and down your throat to help you breathe during the operation.
Your surgeon will make a small incision in your armpit.
This location allows your surgeon to reach your thyroid gland without leaving a scar on your neck.
A second small incision may be made beside your breastbone.
Though the armpit incision your surgeon will create a path under the skin of your chest and neck muscles to reach your thyroid gland.
An assistant will insert the robotic arms with tools through the incisions.
Unlike standard laparoscopic instruments, these tools can rotate 360 degrees, and have more flexibility than the human wrist.
Seated at a special console, your surgeon will operate the robotic arms and the camera with “joystick-like” controls, and foot pedals.
A computer will translate the exact movements of your surgeon’s fingers into precise movements of the surgical tools.
At the same time, a high definition vision system will provide a magnified three-dimensional stereoscopic view of the surgical area.
With the robotic arms in position, your surgeon will carefully separate your thyroid from the tissues around it.
Depending on the reason for your surgery, your surgeon will remove one lobe of your thyroid or the entire gland.
Your doctor may remove nearby lymph nodes as well.
Near the end of your procedure, your surgeon will put a surgical drain in your armpit incision.
The drain will remain there for several days.
At the end of your procedure, the tiny incisions will be closed with stitches, staples, surgical glue, or closure-tape dressings.
After your procedure, your breathing tube will be removed and you will be taken to the recovery area for monitoring.
Your surgeon may check your larynx for injury. You’ll be given pain medication as needed.
You may continue to receive antibiotics through your IV.
Most patients are released from the hospital one or two days after the procedure.
Your doctor may prescribe calcium supplements.
If your entire thyroid is removed, you will take daily thyroid hormone replacement medication.